French press review 28 March 2012

Is Sarkozy closing the gap on Hollande? How different are his policies to Le Pen's? Why did Total's share price frop six per cent yesterday? And French and Tunisian Muslims show good sense and moderation.


The gap between presidential rivals Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande has closed even further, according to the main story on the front page of this morning's right-wing Le Figaro.

The latest opinion poll suggests that Sarkozy would narrowly win the first round, with Marine Le Pen of the far-right Front National taking third spot, with 17 per cent of voting intentions.

Le Figaro points out that the last Front National candidate, Marine's daddy, made huge progress in the standings in the final weeks of the 2002 campaign. The right-wing paper's analysis also suggests that an increasing number of centrist voters, currently among the 12 per cent attracted by François Bayrou, will vote for Sarkozy in the second round.

Socialist contender Hollande would, however, win that decisive second round against Sarkozy with a clear eight point margin.

Ecologist candidate, Eva Joly, is the special guest in today's left leaning Libération. She says she can't tell the difference between Nicolas Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen on such crucial questions as immigration and integration.

Joly is no longer, I'm afraid, a serious part of the presidential equation. Her support has dwindled to around two per cent, down from 11 per cent back in May of last year. As Libé's editorial points out, it's a sad paradox that, the more proof we have of the fragility of our planet, the less interest we show for ecology as a political way ahead.

The economic crisis, of course, has a major part to play, since Green policy is rarely cheap. But when are the Greens going to wake up to the fact that politics is a dirty game, played by tough guys, and that wittering on about Fukushima is no way of attracting voters in Villiers le Plouc.

Speaking of ecological disaster, there's a fine example on the front page of this morning's business daily, Les Echos.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The French petrol company Total has had to evacuate 300 workers from a gas platform in the North Sea following a leak. The site is currently surrounded by a cloud which is toxic and highly explosive. It could take six months to get the situatuion sorted out. That's bad, but is potentially less messy than an oil leak, unless, of course, somebody decides to have a quick smoke before putting on the gas mask.

Total's share price lost six per cent in the course of yesterday.

Catholic La Croix and centrist Le Monde have virtually identical main headlines.

La Croix looks at how the French Muslim community is reacting in the wake of the tragic recent events in Toulouse.

Le Monde concentrates on the decision by Tunisia's new rulers to refuse to enshrine strict Islamic Sharia law in the national constitution.

In both cases, radicalisation is the danger, with the vote-hunters ready to profit from any deepening of the divisions here in France, and the fundamentalists prepared to ruin Tunisia's fragile democracy in pursuit of their own nasty and brutish programme.

Moderation and good sense seem to be winning the day in both cases. For the time being.

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